Cover 9781785906626


Society shapes law… and law shapes society.

We like to imagine that progress comes about when Parliament spots a looming groundswell in public opinion and responds by changing the laws that govern our daily lives. This is not always true.

In this fascinating book, Inigo Bing unravels ten legal cases in which the decisions of judges or a jury either heralded a shift in outlook or forced Parliament to respond to simmering social change.

Some of these cases demonstrate the role judges have in defending our civil liberties against overweening executive power, articulating inherent unwritten rights Parliament would prefer to keep quiet about. Others explore what happens when rapid technological or social change outpaces government, placing urgent ethical dilemmas in the lap of the court. All of them have had a lasting impact on the society we inhabit.

Taken together, these stories provide a powerful insight into eighty years of British social, political and cultural history, illustrating why legal cases are just as important to making our world as laws written by Parliament or grassroots changes within society.


“Written with verve, style and an eye for colourful detail and eccentric personalities. It describes the legal background in clear and approachable terms.”

Jonathan Sumption, TLS

“A brilliant accessible journey through the seminal cases of the modern era. Written with flair and wit and the skill of a great storyteller, the collection is a fascinating confirmation that law has to respond to social change. A riveting read.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

“Fascinating … Each case is a laser beam into the role of judges in society in the context of power in modern Britain. In a clear, highly readable style, Bing explores how judges have helped to shift social ground.”

Frances Gibb, The Times
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  • Hardback, 352 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785906626
  • 12 July 2022
  • £25.00

  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781785907456
  • 12 July 2022
  • £19.99

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